Friday, January 13, 2017

Free Shipping Fridays: An Apology

Dear Readers,

I owe you an apology. All of you, whether you are fired up about racial issues (on either side), completely ambivalent, or--most likely--somewhere in-between. Because I saw a racially-charged incident today, and I didn't do anything.

I was at the gas station, spacing out and pumping gas, when a car pulled in. A car running on the fuel of stereotype. A car blaring rap at high volume, full of angry young black men, making sure that everybody knew it. I may be fairly woke, but to my old and weary ears, it was obnoxious. I'll admit it.

Perhaps that's a racial incident in and of itself. Perhaps that's the discussion we really need to be having here, the discussion that I wasn't even tryna be... annoyed out of my complacence by their pain and anger. I just wanted to pump my gas and let some caffeine kick in.

So y'all tell me. But until then, I'll continue with the incident as I saw it. The car drove up, I (at least mentally) rolled my eyes, and then someone spoke. Also loudly.

"An ounce of C-4 would cure that noise!"

Imma let it sink in for you for a moment, dear readers. Some of you may already be pissed. Some of you might be confused. Some of you may not think it's a big deal.

I'm pissed, but also confused, and it is definitely a big deal. A big damn deal.

This was not a random thing. It's actually scarily specific. An ounce? Of C-4? Does this guy have some at home, and next time, he might decide to use it? Does he have experience with explosives? Perhaps in some ways it would have been scarier and more inappropriate if he had said something about using a gun, but in some ways, not so much. Because lots of people have guns. And lots of people threaten to use them. And that in itself is an inappropriate threat of violence. A mass murderer of nine black folks in Charleston, SC was just sentenced to death, and such gun violence must be condemned. But four little black girls also died when white supremacists bombed a church in Birmingham in 1963, and I fear that those days are closer than we think.

In a "Trump America," people feel free to speak these threats out loud. And I've now heard it in person.

You might try to tell me that it wasn't racially motivated. We can agree to disagree on that one (even though I think you are completely wrong), because it doesn't matter what this guy's motivations were. The fact remains that a white man vocally relished the idea of ending black lives and thought that was appropriate, even welcomed. He thought the rest of us white folks at the pumps would agree with him. He thought he was in the right, and in the majority, and in charge. That's a dangerous combination.

Please don't try to tell me he was "just joking." I don't care if he was just joking. There was a real threat behind it. Because he had already dismissed those young men as so much "noise." He had already de-humanized them and decided that violence was the solution to ridding this world of that noise. Don't try to tell me that he was picturing taking the people out of the car and then throwing C-4 at just the car. Just don't. Whether or not he would ever go through on it, whether or not he pictured it in detail, is not the point. The point is that he contemplated violence as a way to end an inconvenience to his happiness. The point is that in his mind, black lives don't matter. I guarantee you that he would not have said that if it had been young white men. He probably would have said somebody should have spanked them more when they were little, and I'd have agreed. But he didn't, and I don't.

And did I mention that I'm pissed? Because I am pissed, and more than anything at myself.

Remember when I said I owed all of you an apology? I owe you an apology because I didn't say anything. At first I didn't say anything because my initial response was sarcastic. And that's never helpful in racial matters with strangers. And then I didn't say anything because I was in shock. Who shouts such a thing to the world at large? Did he really just say that? Did I really just hear that?

But then I didn't say anything because I was afraid. And confused. And ashamed.

He drove off, and the "offending" car did, too. And I stood at the pump for I don't know how long, until I realized that my gas pump was done, and it was time for me to get back in my car, and drive away, too. "Wait!" I called weakly. "Sir, come back. I don't agree, and I need to tell you that. Violence is never the right answer to an offense..."

He didn't come back, obviously. And it's probably a good thing. Dude had a hair-trigger temper, probably a shotgun in his truck, and a hair-trigger trigger finger. At best, would he really have been able to hear me? I doubt it.

But maybe it would have mattered that I had said something. Maybe it would have mattered to some of the other folks, who all seemed uncomfortable, as well. And it would have mattered to Jesus for me to stick up for the imago dei in everybody, even that angry man.

So, now for my apology. And "Wait!" you say. "Isn't this a 'Free Shipping Friday' post? Sure has been a lot of YOU talking, Chandra. Where are the recommended links? Where are others' voices, hm?"

Sorry, one more thing to apologize for.

So, I apologize to the sisters in this article:

Charlene, I'm sorry I didn't stand up for the image of God in Black folks.
Nancy, I'm sorry I didn't stand alongside you, as a white woman, advocating for a Black sister.

I apologize to the brother who wrote this post:

Duke, I'm sorry I chickened out. You speak bravely every day, from both a position of minority and privilege, and I had a chance to join you. Pray that I will next time.

I apologize to the sister who wrote this important piece:

Christina, I'm sorry I didn't stand up against further trauma. Further trauma for all of us, further denigration of human beings, further silencing of voices--even my own.

I apologize to the sister who penned this vulnerable, insightful post:

Emily, I'm sorry I didn't stand up for your beautiful brown babies. Your wonderful black husband. Your fabulous so-very-white-lady-but-mama-of-color-and-that-matters self. They matter. You matter. I see you, and I rejoice.

This post isn't meant to be all "Woe is meeeeee... now somebody please tell me I'm good." It really isn't. I'm not beating myself up, I'm picking myself up, and moving forward in repentance. I'm not tryna get your sympathy, or respect, or accolades. Or at least the redeemed part of me isn't. What I know is that confession and redemption are good for the soul--are the very basis of the gospel--so imma apologize first, and ask questions later. I think the more we spend time sincerely apologizing to each other, and the less time we spend questioning (read: interrogating) each other, we'll see more of this kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

I apologize to the hateful, violent guy, for not speaking truth to you. Whether you were in a position to hear it is up to God. But I was in a position to share it, and I didn't. I wish I had, graciously and calmly.

I apologize to you, dear readers. If this post has pissed you off, left you raw, make you feel inadequate, helpless, or just plain antagonized, I'm sorry. I truly am. Can we talk about it? I hope so.

And to our beautiful creator God, I apologize. And I move forward in your truth. Because you are the God of redemption, of healing, of truth, of reconciliation, of bravery, of goodness. My apology is both necessary and also dealt with, because my sin is dealt with. Hallelujah! Hallelujah.

Monday, December 12, 2016

To A Cold Front

photo credit Erin Kennedy White

Dear Wintry Weather,

Well, you've finally arrived, even here in Mississippi. I like the idea of cold weather, just not the actuality. I love the idea of snow and blustery snowball fights and icicles hanging from the eaves. Unfortunately, that doesn't really happen around here. No snow; no crisp, glittery mornings; no brittle, clear, frosty nights. Just cold. And rain. And more cold. 

I know Northerners think we're hilarious. Anything above freezing is no big deal in the North. But here in the South, 50 degrees Fahrenheit is about where we start whimpering, and when it gets below freezing--especially if it's rainy--we feel it in our bones. We've got thin blood; we're just not built for cold weather. 

I don't love wearing bulky coats, even though a trenchcoat with a pair of Chucks always makes me feel a little like the dashing Tenth Doctor. We are notorious in our house for losing mittens, scarves, hats, etc. We have to bundle up the baby, take her outside, then strip off her coat so that we can actually snap her in her carseat. Winter apparel, especially when there's no snow, feels like more trouble than it's worth. 

I'll tell you what else I don't like about you, wintry weather. It's hard to forget the poor when it gets cold outside. Each night, sitting around our table, eating warm food with people I love, I have a hard time not feeling guilty about those that don't have a table, or warm food, or a family. I am keenly aware, as I tuck my babies into their snuggly, safe beds, that there are mamas out there who aren't able to provide that safety and warmth for their babies. 

It's easier during warm weather to forget these hard things. To forget that there are still those that are thirsty, overheated, and dangerously unprotected from the elements in summer. Hot weather can be just as deadly as cold weather, but somehow it's easier to ignore the plight that others face, when it's hot outside. In summer, there's a certain solidarity where we all melt, and pant, and wilt away in the heat. In winter, when my loved ones are safe within our home's walls, I feel the exclusion of it all--the fact that there are "haves," and there are "have-nots." Summer feels like camaraderie, like warmth, like light. Winter feels like alienation, like a chill that won't go away, like darkness. 

So I don't like you, cold weather. I want to enjoy God's good gifts, to be grateful for what God has provided. But there's something about cold weather that makes that hard to do. And because of my selfishness, wintry weather doesn't necessarily make me more generous, more prayerful, or more active to help those in need. It just makes me feel guiltier. In a season which is full of busyness and family and travel and so many things--good and bad--to be praying about, I selfishly want to avoid feelings that I can't control, can't sculpt, can't hang lights on and make pretty. 

I guess I can't use a cold front as a scapegoat any longer. Really, I should be addressing God. And addressing the poor. But how? How does one thank God for all that I have and then cry out in anger for those who don't, all in the same breath? How does one see the inherent humanity in those outside? How does one not reduce the poor to a monolithic, faceless group of people that is so easy to dismiss?

Well, God, I guess I'll look to your Word and ask these questions. So I cry out to you, "How long?" I join the Psalmist in asking for justice and your mercy on your people (Psa. 79:5).

I ask for your shalom to come--which necessitates your justice--and I join with the prophet Jeremiah in speaking your words that we, God's people, must seek the good of our cities (Jer. 29:7). 

Along with the tax collector, I beg for your mercy on me, a sinner (Lk. 18:13), and ask you to change my heart, to make me see with your eyes, to break my heart for those in any type of need. I join with Jesus as he looked out over Jerusalem and wept at the misery of his people (Lk. 19:41).

As a drowning person among other drowning people, I ask that you bring me forward in conviction, O Lord, to do your will. To join you in making things right. I cast my guilt away as a scheme of the devil, and desire only to serve you, Lord. I listen to the pangs of hunger that others are feeling, I shiver in the cold that others must constantly live with, and I weep with the loneliness that image-bearers feel, especially during the cold and the holidays. 

And what can I say to you, the hungry, the cold, the homeless, the destitute and the grieving? I will say, I see you. I see your needs, and I want to help meet them. But I also see your imago dei--your status as deserving of respect and dignity because God made you. I see your uniqueness--I will not yield to easy stereotypes nor blame-shifting which abdicates me of all responsibility in your plight. I see you, and I will not look away in shame for either of us. 

And to my family and fellow believers, I say, let us join together in doing God's work. We must pray, and then listen, and then act. We will do good, not to get rid of uncomfortable realizations and guilt, but to be in solidarity with fellow human beings. We will do good, not in a position of power, but recognizing our own desperate, needy state. We will do good because we realize that without God we have nothing and can do nothing. We will do good because God has given us resources to grow his kingdom, and "there, but for the grace of God, go we." Because we recognize that what separates us from those outside in the cold has nothing to do with us or our supposed goodness. And we recognize our frailty, and even that sometimes, we too, are lonely, even in our warm, glowing homes. 

The question we must ask ourselves is not, "Will we invite the sojourner, the stranger, and the needy to our dinner table?" The proper question is "How? How do you want us to serve, God?" Some of us are called to host international students, or others without family nearby. Some of us are called to scale back our food budget, so as to be able to give more to our churches and worthy charities. Some of us are called to foster or adopt. Some of us are called to serve at soup kitchens, children's homes, or homeless shelters. There are as many ways to serve as there are believers to do the serving, if only we'll listen to God's call. Some of us are called to bring people to our table and some to bring the table to those in need, but all are asked to pray. We all must sit with the painful reality that he sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45), especially when it's freezing rain. We all must confront the truth that some have shelter from those cold rains, but others do not. We all must be willing--even as we embrace our families and thank God for all he has done for us--to lament the injustices of the world and continue to ask God to use us to love our fellow humans. 

Shivering, but grateful,
A Fellow Human Being.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Free Shipping Fridays: Seeing with Different Eyes

Dear Readers,

One of the sweetest--and most terrifying--moments is when you are really and truly seen by someone else for who you are. One of the hardest--and most gratifying--moments is when you really and truly see someone else for who they are. And one of the most amazing--and most absurd--moments is when, seeing God, you realize that God sees us all for who we are, he offers forgiveness, he loves us, and he wants to help us see through his eyes, too. Like I said, amazing and absurd.

As we strive to see with God's eyes, I believe that is part of why God has given us--the body--to each other (1 Cor. 12). Because some of us are "eyes," more naturally attuned to seeing the suffering of others, we can help those who are gifted in other areas. And as I think about my natural inclinations to see so much around me, and my desire to speak truth and do good, what I think I'm learning is that one can't always be an eye, and a mouth, and ears, and hands, and feet, etc. etc. all at once, and not be exhausted. Exhausted and feeling alone, and no where near being secure in God's best way, which is for his people to work and grow together.

For today's free shipping of intangible goodness, I'm following the example of companies that send glasses straight to your door. You get a box--usually of four different frames--and you try them on. No obligation, just a chance to see if something new might work for you. So try these on for size. Let us see together, friends. Let us also listen together, and let us figure out together what work God has for us, as he purifies and cleanses us, his dear church. Here are a few links that may help each of us see each other differently, and learn more about listening, as we serve together. 

My friend and colleague Stephanie showed me this amazing piece about how we stereotype people:

My dear sister in the faith, Erin, and I think a lot alike. Check out her recent piece on the Reformed African American Network:

My brother in Christ (though we've never met) Tim Challies talks about confronting others Biblically and wisely. This was eye-opening to me, in terms of my own issues and my own hypocrisy. I need to see others through a more Biblical lens. We all do:

And finally, an HBS Review article about the practical importance of seeing others' viewpoints, and how it affects our ability to lead and serve:

Monday, November 28, 2016

To Those Who Want to Learn More

Dear Friends,

Many of my majority culture friends (and yes, I share majority culture privilege in some ways, too, but I also have some minority experiences) are asking, in the aftermath of the election, “How do I help?” I hear your hearts. I see your earnestness. And I believe you can help, can be a force for change. I believe you can do it.

But you might not like the answer as to how.

The election has revealed what’s been there all along: we have a race problem. I’ll say it again: We. Have. A. Race. Problem.

If that sentence makes you uncomfortable, good. This is not an easy topic. If that sentence makes you mad, use it. Ask Jesus--Immanuel--God With Us--to cleanse that anger of sin, and then use it for change. For the changing of your heart foremost. 

And if that sentence makes you say, “No, we don’t have a race problem!” then this post is not for you. This post is for brothers and sisters who are willing to speak this fundamental truth—that our country was founded on the sin of oppressing the vulnerable, and that those practices continue today. At every level, from individual to structural, vulnerable people are oppressed, marginalized, and hurt. If you disagree with that statement, then let us disagree graciously with one another and remain friends. 

But if you are starting to see the vulnerable around you, if you are becoming aware of the oppressed, the marginalized, the hurt and the invisible in our society, if you are becoming aware of your majority culture privilege, welcome. God is at work in you. Because he’s seen those folks--those human beings--all along. And now you that you see the brokenness, there’s no way back to blissful ignorance. There’s no way provided in the gospel for ignoring the hard truths and going backwards.

But does it seem impossible to move forward? Does it seem that as soon as you realize that we have a race problem, then you realize you’re part of that problem, and then when you try to solve that problem, you can't? That’s frustrating. That's disheartening. That's exhausting. And it's especially hard when it is the very people you'd like to serve that are telling you "no."

Would you like to know why you’re being told no? 
Yes, you'd like to know? 
Are you sure?

"No" is so often the answer for several reasons. Some of them are good reasons, some of them are bad, and some just are. But there are real reasons behind why your well-meaning efforts may not be helpful, may be met with resistance, and may drive wedges further.

Because the "yes" that God is asking of you now might be the worst kind of (in)action imaginable in our dominant culture: listening and lamenting.

I'll say it again. Listening and lamenting. 

“No,” you say, “You don’t get it. I want to DO something. Take action. Take a stand. Stop injustice in its tracks.” I say, "Wonderful! Good for you, but YOU don’t get it." I mean this literally. You do not get "it," that "it" being the depth and the complexity of the problem. If you aren’t willing to listen and lament, you truly cannot understand the minority experience and what needs to change. 

Yes, there is a time for action. Yes, that time is now. But no, brown folk don’t need a “white savior.” No, women don’t need a man to explain how we can work together to fix the problem. No, oppressed minority groups do not need the majority to lead them to victory as though the only way to win is through majority culture leadership. You, dear friend, you who are so passionately asking, “How do I help?” by your truly humble question, prove that you want to learn. You also prove that you shouldn’t be arguing with people when they answer you. Because you don't know. When you are told to listen and lament, then, do it. Do. It.

I told you the answer might not be something you wanted to hear. And yes, there are actions to be done, stands to be made, and truth to be shared. But until you can understand the helplessness that a minority of any kind feels, day in and day out, you won’t know how to help. Until you can listen and lament, your actions will be unhelpful, your stands will be awkward, and your truth will be biased.

Actually, even after you listen, you’re still going to mess it up sometimes. That’s the message of the gospel—that we’re all broken people who need a savior to restore and reconcile us to himself and one another. But the odds are much better for your actions to succeed if you educate yourself first. The chances will be much better that your stand will make a difference, and that your truth will be heard and taken to heart by others.

Still mad? Good. Still uncomfortable? Excellent. Still frustrated? Fantastic. Now sit with that. Sit in it. Ask God about it. Cry out to him about it, like the Psalmist did. Not just because it’s good for you (though it certainly is), but also because in this work of listening and lamenting, you are joining the work that is already being done by brothers and sisters around the country. You are joining the cries of kidnapped men, women, and children that were in horrific conditions during the Middle Passage and in chattel slavery. You are weeping along with immigrants who have paid life savings and risked drowning, starvation, suffocation, and being shamed, all to leave behind everything familiar. When you scream aloud with women who have been sexually harassed, abused, objectified and debased, you are joining the Holy Spirit and even the entire earth in groaning and pleading for the coming justice of the King. When you are willing to not just stand with others, but actually helplessly lie down in the street with those who are most vulnerable, then you are emulating Jesus and the sacrifices he made to dwell among us. Then you will receive greater understanding.

Because if you don’t understand at all the misery, vulnerability, and plight of human beings that I just described above, if you think it’s really not that bad, that the stories are inaccurate and biased, and if you feel the need to say “yeah, but—” then you are not ready for action. And nobody wants to hear that. I know, I don't want to hear that. I don't want to sit and wait on the Lord. But we all have to do it at one time or another, so why not now? Enter into this Advent season willing to listen and lament. Willing to wait on Jesus to arrive in unexpected and unheralded ways. 

You may need to have some concrete steps to learning how to listen and lament, and I get it. I'm that way, too. So read Prophetic Lament by Soong-Chan Rah. Heck, just read the book of Lamentations in the Bible. Read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. Read this brother's blog post (with an open mind) on Ferguson: Why "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" Still Matters. Visit the National African-American Museum at the Smithsonian, or the Civil Rights museums in cities like Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta. Watch Do The Right Thing, 12 Years a Slave, or A Time to Kill. And if you want to know more about the immigrant experience, the LGBT experience, women's experience, or any of a number of minority experiences, stories aren't hard to find. As my good friend Jemar would say, "Google it. Google. It." People are willing to share, but let them do so on their own terms. 

We are all created in the image of God, and what a painful, wonderful blessing it is to listen to each others' stories, lament with one another, and wait on the Lord. 

Moving into God's presence,
A Fellow Image-Bearer

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

To My Fellow Americans (Part 3)

Dear Fellow Citizens,

Well, here I am once again, with delusions of presidential grandeur. I figure if some of the current candidates can fancy themselves worthy of the presidency, why can't I? Ah ha ha ha ha! *whimper*

If you know me at all, you're pretty aware that I'm no fan of Trump, nor am I a big Hillary fan. (I miss Bernie. Hell, I miss McCain as the Republican nominee, at this point.) But the reasons I did or didn't vote for him or her might not be what you'd think:

I didn't vote for him or her because of his or her personality.

Please appreciate my syntax here. That can be read both ways. It could be "the reason for my negative vote is the horribleness of said candidate." And there's something to that, especially with rhetoric that I believe defies ideals that the United States (at its best) stands for: acceptance, community, respect, and inclusion.

But syntactically, it could also be "I voted for him or her, but not because of his or her personality." Because at the end of the day, personality is only part of what does (or doesn't) qualify a candidate for office. Do I want a bombastic, hateful, unrepentant person in the White House? No. Do I think we've had those before? Actually, yes. But I think they could do their jobs because they knew how to lead, and how to inspire, and how to negotiate. Please note that all these descriptors, depending on how one defines them (good and bad), could apply equally well to either of the two main candidates, and probably to Gary Johnson, as well. (I only know this because I'm from New Mexico, and I fondly/embarrassedly remember him as governor.).

Lots of previous presidents have had terrible personalities. And discussions of social media, globalization, and a digital age aside, we were more shielded from those personalities. Those personalities sometimes got in the way, and sometimes didn't. But we're not voting for a pastor, people. We're not proposing to a future spouse. At the end of the day, it would be nice if our president were honest, gracious, and well-spoken. But some of our best past-presidents have been adulterers, thieves, liars, and awkward as hell. Yet they could still do their damn job. So that's who I voted for. I voted for the person I thought could best do the job, based on experience, credibility, reliability, etc. Not being an asshat is part of the job, but honestly, I'm willing to go with someone who can fumble through it and fake it a little. Is that cynical and defeatist? Maybe. Is that wasteful and hypocritical? Possibly. Is that enough reason to not vote? For me, no. If you didn't vote because you despise both major party candidates, I hear you. And I'm not judging you really, just looking at you a little sadly. Which really is far worse, right? Ha ha ha sorry.

So I did vote for him or her because of his or her abilities, or at least what I think they are. And I voted. Because I'm a citizen of heaven who trusts in the Kingship of Christ but has been sent into temporary exile in this world to love God and humans who are created in his image. My ultimate, heavenly citizenship doesn't mean I blow off caring about this world, it means I try to do it as Christ did. I want to engage people well. I want to remember to keep my eyes on heaven, part of which means seeing the people and needs around me. I want to engage people with passionate kindness and kind passion. (Ooh! That's a good one. Lawyer friends, please help me trademark that phrase.)

So who did I vote for? Not Jesus Christ (ugh), because he doesn't need my vote and he's in charge of everything, anyway. I voted for [SENTENCE REDACTED FOR PRIVACY AND NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUES]. We'll see how it goes.

Hopefully, Respectfully, and Patriotically Yours,
Chandra Crane, write-in candidate, Opinionist Party

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Same-day Shipping Saturday (or, Free Shipping Fridays, a day late): InterVarsity Controversy

You may have heard of the controversy over InterVarsity policy and "Redeemed Sexuality" theology. As I have also been reminded, you may not have. Because the world doesn't revolve around me and my spheres of influence. I need this reminder. Often.

Either way, I hope these links will be helpful if you'd like to hear more. And either way, if you're a praying sort of person, please pray. Pray for the organization for which I still work. Pray for the LGBTQIA brothers and sisters who had to go, and the ones who've been able to stay. Pray for Jesus to make all things right and new, because we need him desperately.

What started the media storm--Time magazine's piece, which shows definite bias, but is still helpful:

Christianity Today's response, which is (I think) somewhat biased in the other direction:

InterVarsity's official statement on their Facebook page, which was not well-received, and which I am still mulling over:

This post broke my heart, opened my eyes, and gave me a little bit of hope. It is gracious, balanced, and raw:

Satire is only funny because it parodies something. This satirical article is eye-opening and disheartening. It's how so many folks perceive this move by IV. I don't know what to do about that, except to weep, pray, and try to understand:

This post shows something of a third view, but is quite long and a bit hard to follow in parts. I skimmed it:

Finally, I thought this article was extremely helpful. It addresses legal issues, laments the situation, and endorses neither "side" whole-heartedly:

If you only have time for two links, I'd suggest making them the 4th and the 7th ones.  Thank you for reading, friends.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Free Shipping Fridays: A Bouquet of Encouragement

Dear Readers,

I'm shelling out the big bucks this week, because having flowers delivered to your door ain't cheap. But here, for your reading enjoyment, is a mixed bouquet of all the random encouraging websites I've come across over the past couple of weeks. Many of them have been languishing as an open window in my internet browser, so I apologize if they're a bit wilted. Hopefully, they will still brighten your day.

If I had to answer some cheesy ice-breaker question if my friend Maggie "were a flower, which flower would she be?" I'd have to say a Southwestern cactus flower. Hot pink, super pretty, but with enough spines to take care of business:

My friend Pam would definitely be one of the first daffodils coming up at the beginning of a Canadian spring (so, you know, in June). Sweet smelling, dainty looking, but not even weak because she's thriving amidst all that snow:

I'm running out of clever (read: silly) flower analogies here. I just love this story about some CFA folks understanding the true meaning of the Sabbath, and loving the way Jesus loved. Ummm, so roses maybe? Rainbow colored ones? (SOMEONE PLEASE STOP ME I'M OUT OF CONTROL)

Okay, Imma bring things back from over-pollinated syrupy-sweet land with this article. But if I had to  pick a flower to represent Ruth Haley Barton, one of my favorite authors, I'd have to say an iris. Mostly because they are one of my favorite flowers, but also because they're deep and classy (WHY WON'T SOMEONE STOP ME ALREADY):

And here's an actual bouquet, of one of my favorite flowers ever (delphinium) because why not: